On Monday night, Ford Motor F announced it will be investing another $11.4 billion in electric vehicle plants across the US. Under a joint venture South Korean battery maker SK Innovation, it is promising to build its biggest ever factory in Tennessee, a massive 3,600-acre campus, along with twin lithium-ion battery parks in Kentucky.
The investment is aimed at building zero-emission cars and pickups "at scale" for American customers that will result in creating 11,000 jobs. Like its rivals General Motors GM and Stellantis STLA, Ford hopes around half of its sold cars will be zero-emission by the end of this decade.
The new investment comes on top of the $30 billion the company previously said would go to electric vehicles through 2025, about $7 billion of which had already been invested before February.
Ford Is Going All In Into EVs
With prototypes on the way, Ford already revealed in mid-September it is doubling production capacity for its upcoming electric F-150, the Lightning to 80,000 units. Management stated that additional $250 million will be invested along with adding 450 jobs across three Michigan facilities.
To date, Ford has invested $950 million in the hybrid and the electric version of the F-150 whose sales are scheduled for spring for 2022 at a starting price of $40,000. According to the company, it has received more than 150,000 reservations since its debut in May. The prior update from the end of July stood at 120,000. These production and reservation figures are being closely watched by analysts and industry as they serve as guidance for consumer acceptance of EVs, specifically pickups- America's best-selling vehicle.
The Electric Pickup Field Is Expanding
The first electric pickup to hit the road is not a Ford, nor a Tesla Inc TSLA model as this race was won by a startup. Rivian has put the first electric pickup, the R1T, into customer hands on September 14th after months of building pre-production vehicles, according to founder and CEO RJ Scaringe's tweet September 14th.
But many more electric pickups are coming and two of them will be even equipped with solar energy. With its patented solar fusion, Worksport Ltd WKSP established 2 original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partnerships with Hercules Electric Vehicles and Atlis Motor Vehicles to configure the TerraVis system for their pickup trucks.
Worksport's solar-powered tonneau covers will be the original equipment that comes with their EV pickups. Today Worksport announced two new members of the advisory board. The company also announced that it is in discussions with 2 other major OEM partners without revealing names but it has hinted that one is a top-ranking global brand in the U.S. market and the other is an EV startup that recently raised $1 billion in funding.
Worksport Is Making Off-Grid Power A Reality
TerraVis delivers access to green power without a plug, extending the EV range as the truck is being driven, but also delivering stored energy remotely to provide power to worksites, during camping trips etc. Earlier this month, Worksport opened up pre-orders for its solar integrated tonneau covers that collect the sun's rays and stores them in a high-capacity battery pack called the COR mobile Energy Storage. Most importantly, solar power is addressing and solving many deal-breaking EV weaknesses such as charging and range anxiety, further speeding up the electric revolution.
Many other major global players including Tesla, Nio NIO, Plug Power PLUG, Enphase Energy ENPH, SunPower SPWR, Fuel Cell Energy FCEL, and EOS Energy EOSE are competing to deliver innovate energy storage solutions as the industry keeps evolving.
The New Ford
Under Farley, who is at Ford's helm for a year now with shares having more than doubling over this period, the automaker is moving to deliver breakthrough EVs for the many rather than the few. The latest investment is part of Ford+ turnover strategy to improve the profitability of traditional operations and better position the company in the autonomous, electric and connected vehicles playground.
A Pivotal Moment
About $5.6 billion of Ford's investment with SK will go to a new plant called Blue Oval City in Stanton, Tennessee that will cover 6-square-mile area and build next-generation EVs and batteries from 2025. The remaining $5.8 billion will be committed to two battery parks in Glendale, Kentucky that will power a new lineup of Ford and Lincoln EVs. According to North America's COO, Lisa Drake, Ford will cover about $7 billion of the $11.4 billion and without resorting to debt.
Regulatory Support Is On The Way
On Thursday, lawmakers will vote on the first $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan which appears to have enough bi-partisan support to pass. But the second $3.5 trillion bill, which focuses on widening America's social safety net, is opposed by every Republican and even some Democrats who find it too expensive. The Biden administration hopes to introduce tougher tailpipe emissions rules from 2026 and commit billions of dollars of spending on the charging infrastructure and consumer incentives. But it needs to get through a divided Senate.
History Is Being Made
This is undoubtedly a pivotal moment for Ford and the automotive industry that is undergoing its biggest transformation to date. Ford's latest move confirms its EV ambitions. Once fully operational, processes at theTennessee facility should be carbon neutral with zero-waste-to-landfill.
Farley said the plant will build entirely new electric F-Series pickups, unlike the upcoming Lightning that is based on the traditional ICE F-150. In other words, Ford is reinventing pickups for the EV age and this is just the beginning of its aspirations to lead the country in a new era of sustainable transportation.
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